Movie Review: The Man Who Invented Christmas, directed by Bharat Nalluri (Five Stars)

the_man_who_invented_christmasMovie Review: The Man Who Invented Christmas, directed by Bharat Nalluri

Five Stars

“No one is useless in this world,”

Outstanding. A mashup of historical biography and fantasy. Nalluri, Coyne and Standiford take viewers into the soul of Charles Dickens as he almost doesn’t create A Christmas Carol in 1843. The pace and production values exactly match the theme. Dan Stevens is great; Christopher Plummer is incredible.

“We must not disturb the poet when the divine frenzy is upon him.”

Before seeing it, remind yourself of both the story and Dicken’s biography, otherwise nothing that follows will seem quite so wondrous. Before taking children to see this, adults should see it Continue reading

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Movie Review: Justice League, directed by Zach Snyder (Three Stars)

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Movie Review: Justice League, directed by Zach Snyder

Three Stars

“Without reason, without love, [science] destroys itself.”
Like most DC and marvel offerings, it’s good, clean fun. Don’t expect too much, and you won’t be disappointed.
“To lead, you step into the light and say to people, this is worth your life.”
The plot was–dare I say it–comic book-ish; the acting was fair, and the special effects looked like special effects. It is what it is.
“I believe in truth, but I also a big fan of justice.”

 

Movie Review: Murder on the Orient Express, directed by Kenneth Branagh (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: Murder on the Orient Express, directed by Kenneth Branagh

Four Stars

“If it were easy, I would not be famous.”

Excellent period piece movie. Meticulously staged and photographed. All-star cast. Lots of fun.

“The criminal act is the anomaly. It takes a fractured soul to kill another human being.”

Inevitable comparison with the 1974 version: this one has a bigger pallet. Scenes set in Jerusalem and Istanbul as well as outside the train give the cinematographer a bigger canvas on which he painted with impressionistic color and drama. Branagh makes a better Poirot than Finney, but no one could take those mustaches seriously.

“Romance never goes unpunished.”

Why not five stars? The movie seemed too aware of itself. Bordered on melodrama.

“Did we die?”

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2, written and directed by James Gunn (Three Stars)

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Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, written and directed by James Gunn

Three Stars

“Sometimes that thing you search for your whole life is right by your side all along; you just don’t know it.”

Now this is popcorn for the brain. Mindless, comic book-style action. But … wait, there’s more there’s an understrata of subplots about relationship, especially familial ones.

“I can only afford to lose one friend today.”

Love the music, but then I was just out of college when Looking Glass’ “Brandy” topped the pop charts.

“You’ll be just like everyone else.” “What’s so wrong with that?”

Movie Review: Ender’s Game, written and directed by Gavin Hood (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: Ender’s Game, written and directed by Gavin Hood

Four Stars

“The way we win matters.”

Hard science fiction; hard message. Sometimes we become like what we hate, even as we seek to defend ourselves from it. At the same time, to defeat a foe, we must understand him; as our knowledge becomes complete, it gets complicated.

Based on the book of the same name by Orson Scott Card. I prefer the book; your mileage may vary. The movie ends looking beyond the end of the first book toward Ender’s quest for redemption.

Proclaimed by Variety as among the “Biggest Box Office Flops of 2013,” unlike popular popcorn burners like the Marvel movies, this takes reality seriously. It also understands that consequences are real and not always favorable. When you weaponize children, you abuse them. You abuse humanity.

 

Movie Review: Thor: Ragnarok, directed by Taika Waititi (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: Thor: Ragnarok, directed by Taika Waititi
Four Stars

 
A comic book re-imagining of Norse mythology. Fun, action, some redemptive purpose. It’s a good fit for modern superhero stories because the Norse (and for that matter Greek, Roman, Celtic and Hindu pantheons) were more superheroes than divinity.

 
Par for any film she’s in, Cate Blanchett stole every scene she was in. Cameo’s by other Marvel comic heroes.

 

Movie Review: Same Kind of Different as Me (Five Stars)

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Movie Review: Same Kind of Different as Me, directed by Michael Carney

Five Stars

“You want to be my friend? I’m going to have to think about that.”

Excellent. Based on the true story, told in Ron Hall’s 2006 book of the same name. An amazing story, well told. Talented, well-known cast. Good production values. Hard to believe it bombed. (It had help from bad reviews, probably from folks whom it made uncomfortable.

“She’s the only person to love you enough not to give up.”

So, did it bomb at the box office the first time? First, the title. I don’t care how relevant it is, it’s a tongue twister. Who can remember that? Our local Cineplex didn’t even post it on the billboard. Second, it deals with Continue reading

Movie Review: All Saints, directed by Steve Gomer (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: All Saints, directed by Steve Gomer

Four Stars

 
“Pray for God to send help.” “Isn’t that supposed to be you?”

 
Based-on-a-true-story movie about a failing Episcopal church in Tennessee who took in a population of Karen refugees, who’d fled persecution in Myanmar. The lives of more than the congregation and the Karen were transformed.

Good production values, though it has a made-for-television feel. Good acting and plot points. The faith elements are appropriate to the story.

Many of the Karen refugees were played by themselves.

 

Movie Review: Dunkirk, written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: Dunkirk, written, co-produced and directed by Christopher Nolan

Four Stars

“You can practically see it from here.” “What?’ “Home.”

The best kind of war movie, one that focuses on human-sized stories without losing track of the big picture. Historical fiction, but incredible realism and drama. Multiple viewings necessary to absorb the depth.

“He’s on me.” “I’m on him.”

Only criticism is the folded timeline. Nolan not only cut back and forth between plot lines, but breaks chronology. The attentive viewer sees the same event as many as five times from the point of view of five different characters. It adds depth to the story, but it often knocks the viewer out of the flow trying to figure out when and where we are.

“There’s no hiding from this, son. We have a job to do.”